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ALP solar policy lures landlords and home owners and repackages spending on schools

A Rudd Labor government would provide green loans to householders and insulation rebates to owners of rental properties, under the ALP's ‘Solar Schools – Solar Homes’ policy released today.

It would also give a $25 million boost to spending on environmental initiatives at Australian schools and overhaul the energy ratings scheme for household electrical appliances.

The policy would allocate $102 million over four years to provide 200,000 ‘green loans’ of up to $10,000 to help householders make existing homes more energy and water efficient. The loans would be available after a subsidised environmental audit.

“Households will only have to pay back 2% of their annual income, with a minimum of $300 to be repaid each year,” the policy says. “These loans will have no real interest charges and will only be indexed to the Consumer Price Index.”

The policy also allocates $100 million over four years to provide rebates of up to 30% per property for landlords to install insulation in 300,000 homes. The scheme would initially target low income and rental properties.

The schools component would see a federal Labor government allow all Australian schools to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to install solar panels, with additional grants of up to $30,000 for energy and water efficiency measures. The panels could provide about 5% “of a modest primary school’s daily energy needs”, the policy says.

The ‘solar schools’ program would cost $310 million over four years. But this would be largely offset by dismantling the Coalition’s Green Vouchers scheme for schools, which was announced in July and also provides grants of up to $50,000. It would have cost $285 million over the next four years.

While Labor has disparaged the Coalition’s concept of an “aspirational target” on climate change, the strategy purloins the concept, albeit in a different context. A federal Labor government would establish an aspirational target of having rainwater tanks and grey water reuse systems installed in all suitable Australian homes by 2020, the policy says.

To give impetus to the water efficiency push, the policy provides for $250 million over six years to provide households with rebates of up to $500 for greywater reuse systems or rainwater tanks.

The policy also provides for:

  • a $25 million four-year boost to the Solar Cities program, to add Perth and other cities to the existing five cities and regions funded through the program. Perth would receive $13.9 million of the additional funds, which the policy says could be used to assist more than 6,000 homes and businesses;
  • rebates of up to $8,000 for solar panels for up to 3,000 homes a year, as part of a five-year, $150 million program that also includes grants to help install solar panels on about 400 community buildings. This would be funded through the existing federal photovoltaic rebate program; and
  • rebates of up to $1,000 for 225,000 Australian homes to install solar and heat-pump hot water systems, though this is funded entirely through the existing federal $252 million solar hot water systems rebate scheme.

Sustainability scorecards for homes for sale
The policy says Labor would work with state and territory governments to make it mandatory for all homes offered for sale to have accompanying “sustainability scorecards” based on a nationally consistent protocol for energy and water efficiency ratings.

Labor would also encourage landlords to provide these on a voluntary basis to prospective tenants.

The policy says Labor would also:

  • establish a 10-star appliance rating system (up from the current six stars) that would apply to an expanded range of products including TVs;
  • fast-track new standards for products including digital set-top boxes, computers and home entertainment systems;
  • review existing appliance standards every three years to ensure they keep up with technological improvements; and
  • phase-out greenhouse-intensive hot water systems, with some exceptions, by the end of 2012.

Labor’s Solar Schools – Solar Homes Plan (Australian Labor Party, October 26, 2007)

Renewables, low emissions, Water, Grants, finance

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